Explore! Be Brave! New Planet Cabaret

new planet cabaretNew Planet Cabaret is a brand new flash fiction and poetry anthology full of experimental, wacky, way out and deep in observations, playing with rhythm and beat, irony and satire, postmodern memes and themes and good old fashioned storytelling. Some pieces are self-referential, from Freddy and Jam-Jam Head to Outguard that takes apart narrative and the notion of a book, or this book itself to Kate Dempsey’s Yesterday whose satirical pieces underlines what effect, in an ideal world, poetry and fiction in general should have upon the world (how we wish!). Throughout this is a book that pushes, yearns, puts the finger up and asks questions, there’s a strong thread of laying life on the table and asking is this the way we want it to be, and just look at what we face every day. But in no way are these questions asked while lying quiet and low, there’s defiance and brilliance, like turning a crystal every which way and seeing the bright reflections, this collection dazzles and cuts through, slicing the way through the undergrowth of life to make new paths, new possibilities.

Explore! be brave! this is the message of a book that is entitled New Planet Cabaret, this is the message I felt when I went to the launch in Dublin’s Gutter Bookshop where energetic, surprising and mind bending performances from the likes of beatbox poet Jinx Lennon with North Louth Moustache Sunday Roast, Shush by Colm Keegan (makes you hold your breath), Fighting the Man by Cathal Holden, He Sent her a Text by Brigid O’ Connor, Gawk, Sarah Clancy and Perfection by Mel Kavanagh, the previously mentioned Freddy and Jam-Jam Head to Outguard, and a piece by Sarah Marie Griffin (apologies if I’ve left anyone out, my memory ain’t what it used to be) all these, delighted and inspired and woke me up to what’s been done out there right now by a plethora of unique thinking individuals. And what was performed is just a drop in the ocean, there are forty seven pieces in the book to be devoured. The fabulous cover designed by Julianna O’ Callaghan represents the journey that writers can take in exploring their own new worlds of ideas and words.

Explore! Be Brave! Take chances. For me that’s always what flash fiction and peer review opportunities such as #fridayflash and Fictionaut have been about. That’s what flash fiction is about, the chance to take a single idea, tear it apart and put it back together again upside down. For editor Dave Lordan, it’s all about embracing creativity. The book originated through the Creative Writing Workshops run on RTE Arena arts show by Dave. He gave a prompt each month and people responded. The book is just a slice out of the new pieces that were generated by the show. In all seventeen participants were chosen from the creative writing prompts and then further pieces were added to the book by writers already out there who were challenged to do something completely new. Dave Lordan is passionate about this venture and about stirring up creativity in general. His editorial at the start of the book evidences that. Within the book he made loose groupings of pieces around the headings, The Day Began with Silk, Control to Let Go, Sluminosity, Premature Obituaries, Scroobfish and Slaughtered Dreams, Rebelling against the Signs, Electric Sutras. Each title is a magnet for work with a particular preoccupation and as a whole the book takes us through the preoccupations of Irish society, right down into gutters and back out and to higher reaches as we explore the tar and the blazing light of being human. The other day I was blown away by an Italian chef on Masterchef (more in a future post) who was the epitome of the creative mindset, he was joy and verve personified, he created dishes like mini flash fictions, each told a story and the essence of each story had to be translated into a taste sensation. He decorated plates like expressionist paintings flinging the jus onto the plate. New Planet Cabaret does similar, emotion, colour, tone, rhythm, sentiment flung onto the plate with joy and abandon but the effect is cohesive, the juxtapostions new, startling but wonderfully satisfying.

There is a vibrant performance scene in Ireland whether it be at open mics or festivals, there are many opportunities to get out and connect with an audience and the performance at the Gutter Bookshop which was live broadcast by the superb ARTS show RTE arena emphasized that. Poetry is meant to be read out loud and with flash fiction where a play can be made with rhythm and language it also makes sense. Personally I remember the great buzz I got from the audience reaction to a particular piece EAT! (now forthcoming in the Stinging Fly) I read at one of the Big Smoke Writing nights. For writers, too long sitting down in quiet rooms, to take words to people face to face is to add a new dimension and vibrancy. In the absence of face to face, I’ve recorded my piece The Woebegone’s Slaughtered Dreams here.

I think you should get your hands on New Planet Cabaret. You should get your hands on New Planet Cabaret if you want to educate yourself on the new, modern and into the future kind of writing that is happening in Ireland right now, if you want to be inspired and feel shocked and horrified and hopeful and thrilled, if you want to find a path for your own new ideas, if you want to find a way to explore and be brave, this is a book worth diving right into.

New Planet Cabaret is available from bookshops, is published by New Island in association with RTÉ Arena, and is also available online.